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Inland Waterways Helmsman's Course

Cruising our network of inland waterways makes for a great holiday or way of life. Inland boats range from small cruisers to narrow boats and barges.

This course is for anyone wanting to cruise the UK's inland waterways or Europe's extensive network of lakes, rivers and canals.It deals specifically with the requirements of the inland boater, whether they be a narrow boat owner or cruiser enthusiast.

It assumes no prior knowledge and so is ideal for the first timer, yet the more seasoned boater will learn plenty of tricks of the trade and tips to make their boating safer and more enjoyable.

It is a hands-on course with minimal theory, and is not only an opportunity to learn new skills but also a fun day out!

This is a two day course and can be taken either on a centre's boat or on your own boat.

Take a look at 'Things to do with your IWHC certificate' to see what benefits and opportunities are open to you once you've taken your course.   


Cruising the inland waterways is great fun for all ages, and children can participate in all aspects from driving the boat, operating the locks and navigating.The youngest that children can take this course is 12 years old. However, before you book a course check with the training centre that their boat is suitable, as helming a narrowboat can be pretty hard work! British Waterways run a website for children to learn all about the inland waterways of the UK.

Cruising outside the UK

For details of how to use your inland waterways certificate outside the UK and lots of other useful information, please our section on Boating Abroad.

View our online brochure here

Pre-course experience None
Assumed knowledge None
Course content Safety, helmsmanship, locks and tunnels, collision avoidance, an introduction to engine maintenance 
Ability after the course Able to helm a vessel safely on inland waterways
Minimum duration  2-day course
Minimum age 12. Certificates for children aged between 12 and 16 will be endorsed to show that they must use boats only under the supervision of a responsible adult

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